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The Pulp Magazine Archive

Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps"), also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long. Pulps were printed on cheap paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

The name pulp comes from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. Magazines printed on better paper were called "glossies" or "slicks." In their first decades, they were most often priced at ten cents per magazine, while competing slicks were 25 cents apiece. Pulps were the successor to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines are best remembered for their lurid and exploitative stories and sensational cover art. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of "hero pulps"; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom Detective.

The first "pulp" was Frank Munsey's revamped Argosy Magazine of 1896, about 135,000 words (192 pages) per issue on pulp paper with untrimmed edges and no illustrations, not even on the cover. While the steam-powered printing press had been in widespread use for some time, enabling the boom in dime novels, prior to Munsey, no one had combined cheap printing, cheap paper and cheap authors in a package that provided affordable entertainment to working-class people. In six years Argosy went from a few thousand copies per month to over half a million.

Street & Smith were next on the market. A dime novel and boys' weekly publisher, they saw Argosy's success, and in 1903 launched The Popular Magazine, billed as the "biggest magazine in the world" by virtue of being two pages longer than Argosy. Due to differences in page layout, the magazine had substantially less text than Argosy. The Popular Magazine introduced color covers to pulp publishing. The magazine began to take off when, in 1905, the publishers acquired the rights to serialize Ayesha, by H. Rider Haggard, a sequel to his popular novel She. Haggard's Lost World genre influenced several key pulp writers, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy and Abraham Merritt. In 1907, the cover price rose to 15 cents and 30 pages were added to each issue; along with establishing a stable of authors for each magazine, this change proved successful and circulation began to approach that of Argosy. Street and Smith's next innovation was the introduction of specialized genre pulps, each magazine focusing on a genre such as detective stories, romance, etc.

At their peak of popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, the most successful pulps could sell up to one million copies per issue. The most successful pulp magazines were Argosy, Adventure, Blue Book and Short Stories described by some pulp historians as "The Big Four". Among the best-known other titles of this period were Amazing Stories, Black Mask, Dime Detective, Flying Aces, Horror Stories, Love Story Magazine, Marvel Tales, Oriental Stories, Planet Stories, Spicy Detective, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Unknown, Weird Tales and Western Story Magazine. Although pulp magazines were primarily a US phenomenon, there were also a number of British pulp magazines published between the Edwardian era and World War Two. Notable UK pulps included Pall Mall Magazine, The Novel Magazine, Cassell's Magazine, The Story-Teller, The Sovereign Magazine, Hutchinson's Adventure-Story and Hutchinson's Mystery-Story. The German fantasy magazine Der Orchideengarten had a similar format to American pulp magazines, in that it was printed on rough pulp paper and heavily illustrated.

The Second World War paper shortages had a serious impact on pulp production, starting a steady rise in costs and the decline of the pulps. Beginning with Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1941, pulp magazines began to switch to digest size; smaller, thicker magazines. In 1949, Street & Smith closed most of their pulp magazines in order to move upmarket and produce slicks.[8] The pulp format declined from rising expenses, but even more due to the heavy competition from comic books, television, and the paperback novel. In a more affluent post-war America, the price gap compared to slick magazines was far less significant. In the 1950s, Men's adventure magazines began to replace the pulp.

The 1957 liquidation of the American News Company, then the primary distributor of pulp magazines, has sometimes been taken as marking the end of the "pulp era"; by that date, many of the famous pulps of the previous generation, including Black Mask, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Weird Tales, were defunct. Almost all of the few remaining pulp magazines are science fiction or mystery magazines now in formats similar to "digest size", such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The format is still in use for some lengthy serials, like the German science fiction weekly Perry Rhodan.

Over the course of their evolution, there were a huge number of pulp magazine titles; Harry Steeger of Popular Publications claimed that his company alone had published over 300, and at their peak they were publishing 42 titles per month. Many titles of course survived only briefly. While the most popular titles were monthly, many were bimonthly and some were quarterly. The collapse of the pulp industry changed the landscape of publishing because pulps were the single largest sales outlet for short stories. Combined with the decrease in slick magazine fiction markets, writers attempting to support themselves by creating fiction switched to novels and book-length anthologies of shorter pieces.

Pulp covers were printed in color on higher-quality (slick) paper. They were famous for their half-dressed damsels in distress, usually awaiting a rescuing hero. Cover art played a major part in the marketing of pulp magazines. The early pulp magazines could boast covers by some distinguished American artists; The Popular Magazine had covers by N.C. Wyeth, and Edgar Franklin Wittmack contributed cover art to Argosy and Short Stories. Later, many artists specialized in creating covers mainly for the pulps; a number of the most successful cover artists became as popular as the authors featured on the interior pages. Among the most famous pulp artists were Walter Baumhofer, Earle K. Bergey, Margaret Brundage, Edd Cartier, Virgil Finlay, Earl Mayan, Frank R. Paul, Norman Saunders, Nick Eggenhofer, (who specialized in Western illustrations), Rudolph Belarski and Sidney Riesenberg. Covers were important enough to sales that sometimes they would be designed first; authors would then be shown the cover art and asked to write a story to match.

Later pulps began to feature interior illustrations, depicting elements of the stories. The drawings were printed in black ink on the same cream-colored paper used for the text, and had to use specific techniques to avoid blotting on the coarse texture of the cheap pulp. Thus, fine lines and heavy detail were usually not an option. Shading was by crosshatching or pointillism, and even that had to be limited and coarse. Usually the art was black lines on the paper's background, but Finlay and a few others did some work that was primarily white lines against large dark areas.

Another way pulps kept costs down was by paying authors less than other markets; thus many eminent authors started out in the pulps before they were successful enough to sell to better-paying markets, and similarly, well-known authors whose careers were slumping or who wanted a few quick dollars could bolster their income with sales to pulps. Additionally, some of the earlier pulps solicited stories from amateurs who were quite happy to see their words in print and could thus be paid token amounts. There were also career pulp writers, capable of turning out huge amounts of prose on a steady basis, often with the aid of dictation to stenographers, machines or typists. Before he became a novelist, Upton Sinclair was turning out at least 8,000 words per day seven days a week for the pulps, keeping two stenographers fully employed. Pulps would often have their authors use multiple pen names so that they could use multiple stories by the same person in one issue, or use a given author's stories in three or more successive issues, while still appearing to have varied content. One advantage pulps provided to authors was that they paid upon acceptance for material instead of on publication; since a story might be accepted months or even years before publication, to a working writer this was a crucial difference in cash flow.

Some pulp editors became known for cultivating good fiction and interesting features in their magazines. Preeminent pulp magazine editors included Arthur Sullivant Hoffman (Adventure), Robert H. Davis (All-Story Weekly), Harry E. Maule (Short Stories) Donald Kennicott (Blue Book), Joseph T. Shaw (Black Mask), Farnsworth Wright (Weird Tales, Oriental Stories), John W. Campbell (Astounding Science Fiction,Unknown) and Daisy Bacon (Love Story Magazine, Detective Story Magazine).

Description of this collection from Wikipedia.

Many issues of this collection come from a variety of anonymous contributors, as well as sites such as The Pulp Magazines Project and ThePulp.net.

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IF Magazine
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Note: At the request of the estate of Poul Anderson, the serial part "A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" has been removed from this online copy. The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Descent of Man by Freff Stormy Weather by Freff Time Deer by Harting A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (Part 2 of 2) by Jack Gaughan Gut in Peril by Jack...
Topics: mellett, muldaur, rachel, science, fatta, fiction, lst, galaxy, knabe, science fiction, fatta gut,...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
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Note: The short story "Contact Point" has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Reconnaissance Ship by uncredited The Unlearned by Ed Emshwiller The Joy of Living by uncredited The Academy by Leo Summers The Academy [2] by Leo Summers Exhibit Piece by Paul Orban Being by Virgil Finlay Being [2] by Virgil Finlay Being [3] by Virgil Finlay Contact Point by...
Topics: feerman, hockley, rykes, miller, ryke, marian, les, thar, man, richard matheson, hockley felt,...
IF Magazine
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The short story "The Critique of Impure Reason" by Poul Anderson has been removed at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Podkayne of Mars (Part 1 of 3) by Virgil Finlay Podkayne of Mars (Part 1 of 3) [2] by Virgil Finlay The Desert and the Stars by Jack Gaughan The Critique of Impure Reason by John Giunta Essays: Most Personal by Theodore Sturgeon The Popoff by Theodore Sturgeon Hue and Cry...
Topics: retief, aga, kaga, clark, podkayne, uncle, georges, keller, mars, aga kaga, uncle tom, science...
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Please note: The story "I have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Billiard Ball by Vaughn Bodé I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Smith This Mortal Mountain by Castellon Flatlander by Jack Gaughan The Sepia Springs Affair by Wright Where Are the Worlds of Yesteryear? by Jack Gaughan The Iron Thorn (Part 3 of 4)...
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Note: The novelette "The Moonrakers" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Moonrakers by John Giunta The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Part 2 of 5) by Gray Morrow Mr. Jester by Jack Gaughan A Planet Like Heaven by Dan Adkins The Smallness Beyond Thought by Jack Gaughan Essays: Enemies of Mankind by Frederik Pohl Hue and Cry (If, January...
Topics: quimby, hermit, mike, wyoh, prof, jogo, luna, kamun, chalmers, harsh mistress, hong kong, luna...
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Note: At the request of the estate of Poul Anderson, the novelette "Turning Point" has been removed from this online copy. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Green World by John Giunta Die, Shadow! by Virgil Finlay Singleminded by Francis Another Earth by Model Turning Point by John Pederson, Jr. Essays: That There Opposition by Theodore Sturgeon Nonpolitical New Frontiers by Theodore Sturgeon Hue and Cry (If, May 1963) by...
Topics: lampert, greaves, mitsuitei, mclaughlin, richardson, sulewayo, mayron, olga, franstein, david...
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Note: The serial "Three Worlds to Conquer" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Three Worlds to Conquer (Part 1 of 2) by McKenna Mack by Gray Morrow The Competitors by Nodel Waterspider by Virgil Finlay Waterspider [2] by Virgil Finlay Essays: The Day They Threw God at Me by Theodore Sturgeon Personal Monuments by Theodore Sturgeon...
Topics: tozzo, fermeti, anderson, poul, mack, anaka, gilly, paker, robot, poul anderson, slime mold,...
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Note: The novelette "Snowball" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Strangers by Frank Kelly Freas Snowball by Frank Kelly Freas Watershed by Frank Kelly Freas Easy Does It by Paul Orban They Were Different by Paul Orban The Laboratorians by Ed Emshwiller The Outer Quiet by Ed Emshwiller Witness by Frank Kelly Freas Essays: A Chat...
Topics: hal, hinckley, whitemarsh, gorbel, laboratorians, firth, compton, thurlow, hoqqueah, john firth,...
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Note: The short story "Kings Who Die" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Kings Who Die by Mack Alexander Graham Bell and Me by Dyas Tybalt by Burns E/Being by Thall The Madman From Earth by Smith Essays: Who Else but You? by Frederik Pohl Alexander Graham Bell and Me by Theodore Sturgeon Science Briefs (If, March 1962) by uncredited...
Topics: retief, dax, shluh, meuhl, fith, granite, groacian, tief, mallison, granite city, stephen barr,...
IF Magazine
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Note: The novelette "Catalysis" has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Launching and Death of the Satellite by Mel Hunter Avoidance Situation by Mel Hunter To Pay the Piper by Paul Orban Catalysis by Paul Orban The Drivers by Mel Hunter Shango by Paul Orban Jekyll-Hyde Planet by Frank Kelly Freas Essays: The Odd Genre (If February 1956) by Forrest J....
Topics: hawkins, koven, claude, lan, broussard, carson, alien, sur, mudgett, lan sur, avoidance situation,...
IF Magazine
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Note: At the request of the estate of Poul Anderson, the serial "Three Worlds to Conquer" has been removed from this online copy. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: In Saturn's Rings by Lawrence The City That Grew in the Sea by Jack Gaughan Three Worlds to Conquer (Part 2 of 2) by McKenna Essays: Editorial: Miracle On Michigan by Theodore Sturgeon How to Have a Hiroshima by Theodore Sturgeon Hue and Cry (If, March 1964) by Frederik...
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IF Magazine
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Note: The short story "Details" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the Estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Happy Herd by Ed Emshwiller Room with View by Ed Emshwiller Details by Ed Emshwiller Dearest Enemy by Paul Orban Your Servant, Sir by Paul Orban Brain Teaser by Paul Orban Corbow's Theory by Mel Hunter Essays: Editor's Report (If, October 1956) by James L. Quinn...
Topics: kane, warp, ship, android, donant, raymond, bronsen, mars, phil, normal space, space warp, happy...
IF Magazine
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The story "Elliptic Orbit" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Landing On Hermes by uncredited The Jungle by Leo Summers And Gone Tomorrow by Paul Orban Elliptic Orbit by John Styga Community Property by Frank Kelly Freas The Gun Runners by Paul Orban A Cold Night for Crying by Frank Kelly Freas Les Machines by uncredited Essays: A...
Topics: jay, dolan, ilaria, austin, friedlander, karadi, brown, gun, isobel, gun runners, ralph williams,...
IF Magazine
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Note: The Guest Editorial "Limiting Factor" by Poul Anderson has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Where the Subbs Go by Jeff Jones Dismal Light by Brock Cenotaph by Eddie Jones The Creatures of Man by Joe Wehrle, Jr. The Man in the Maze (Part 2 of 2) by Jack Gaughan Essays: Guest Editorial: Limiting Factor by Poul Anderson New Currents in Fandom by Lin...
Topics: muller, raise, rawlins, boardman, eje, sunner, maze, beam, subbs, nat glover, dismal light, lee...
IF Magazine
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Note: The story "SOS" by Poul Anderson is removed from this online copy at the request of the Poul Anderson estate. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Sos by uncredited Sos [2] by uncredited Sos [3] by uncredited Telemart 3 by Jack Gaughan The Thing in the Stone by Jack Gaughan The Thing in the Stone [2] by Jack Gaughan The Thing in the Stone [3] by Jack Gaughan The Ethics of Trade by Jack Gaughan In the Silent World by uncredited...
Topics: mckie, tuluk, daniels, caleban, bildoon, creature, hwat, taprisiot, jake, pan spechi, whipping...
IF Magazine
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The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. Note: The story "Phoenix Land" by Harlan Ellison and an interview with Harlan Ellison have been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Down in the Black Gang by Jack Gaughan Authorgraphs: An Interview with Harlan Ellison by Jack Gaughan The Ship Who Disappeared by Brock The...
Topics: vel, helva, senna, redwing, weston, krau, teron, endfray, bonder, vel senna, tom bonder, frozen...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
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Note: The story "Worlds to Kill" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Sunbeam Caress by Virgil Finlay Sunbeam Caress [2] by Virgil Finlay Worlds to Kill by Jack Gaughan Caterpillar Express by Vaughn Bodé Squatter's Rights by Jack Gaughan Slowboat Cargo (Part 2 of 3) by Dan Adkins Essays: What Science Fiction Is by Frederik Pohl Sf Calendar (If, March...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
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Note: The story "The Sky is Burning" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Wages of Death by Virgil Finlay The Sky Is Burning by Paul Orban Specimen by Virgil Finlay Who's On First? by Ed Emshwiller The Short Snorter by Ed Emshwiller The Super Opener by Paul Orban Sister Under the Skin by Ed Emshwiller The Used People Lot by Paul Orban Essays:...
Topics: macintyre, pops, wallace, zilo, feetch, srtes, piltdon, alien, pirates, science fiction, robert...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
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Note: The story "Life Hutch" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Atomic Bomber by Mel Hunter Human Error by Paul Orban The Executioner by Frank Kelly Freas Life Hutch by Ed Emshwiller Atom Drive by Ed Emshwiller Chrome Pastures by Frank Kelly Freas Love Story by Paul Orban Essays: The Odd Genre (If, April 1956) by Forrest J. Ackerman What Is Your...
Topics: brett, jonner, jacques, seneca, oglethorpe, harper, george, paul, space, white collar, chief...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
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Note: The story "The Pawob Division" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Holmes-Ginsbook Device by Jack Gaughan The Starman of Pritchard's Creek by Wallace Wood The Tin Fishes by Virgil Finlay The Computer Conspiracy (Part 2 of 2) by Jack...
Topics: paul, grimes, kosloff, georg, castriota, data, mai, widder, professor, paul kosloff, young widder,...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
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Note: At the request of Harlan Ellison, the story "Wanted in Surgery" has been removed from this online copy. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Tunesmith by Ed Emshwiller The Last Victory by Virgil Finlay Wanted in Surgery by Virgil Finlay The Birds and the Bees by Paul Orban Bramble Bush by Paul Orban The Bridge by Ed Emshwiller Essays: Editor's Report (If, August 1957) by James L. Quinn What Is Your Science I. Q.? (If, August...
Topics: baque, lankey, lowary, lessing, denton, visiscope, thane, hulsey, lauria, science fiction, bramble...
IF Magazine
by Galaxy Publishing Corporation
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Note: The Story "The Crackpots" has been removed in this online copy at the request of Harlan Ellison. The short story "What Shall It Profit?" has been removed from this online copy at the request of the estate of Poul Anderson. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: Testing Engines for Stage One by Mel Hunter The Crackpots by Paul Orban Z by Ed Emshwiller The Scamperers by Paul Orban What Shall It Profit? by Ed Emshwiller After...
Topics: wyn, wellesley, vivian, clan, satellite, stan, julie, joseph, summer, wolf clan, night court, mack...
IF Magazine
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Note: The story "The Sleeper with Still Hands" by Harlan Ellison has been removed from this online copy at the request of the author. The writings of Lester Del Rey have been removed due to a request by John Betancourt of Wildside Press. (Contents information excerpted from The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ) Art: The Sleeper with Still Hands by Jack Gaughan We Fused Ones by Vaughn Bodé Gone to the Graveyards, Everyone by Joe Wehrle, Jr. The Muschine by Roger Brand The Soft...
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